Compulsory pilotage will now be required for dry cargo and passenger vessels over 3,000 gross tonnes and tankers of 1,000 gross tonnes transiting eastern Hong Kong waters to and from the area of Yantian Container Terminals and Dapeng LNG Terminals, according to a Hong Kong Government Ordinance.
New pilot stations and channel have been established. Details are available at the links below.
While the Hong Kong Government Ordinance states that the waters of Hong Kong shall be a pilotage area, no pilot boarding station has been designated in Mirs Bay on the northeastern shores of the territory bordering Shenzhen.
In the past, vessels have been plying these waters without pilotage service.
"In 1998, there were on average 17 vessel trips daily plying Mirs Bay by visiting ocean-going vessels of 3,000 gross tonnes or above that should have required pilotage service," said the government statement.
"The then Pilotage Advisory Committee (PAC), having regard to the relatively light marine traffic in Mirs Bay as compared to other Hong Kong waters and the remoteness of the area, decided to exempt vessels transiting Mirs Bay," the statement continued.
"With the establishment of three additional liquefied natural gas (LNG) receiving facilities at East Shenzhen in the proximity of Mirs Bay since 2014, the navigation risk in the region has increased. Meanwhile, marine traffic in the region has become heavier. In 2017, the average number of daily trips transiting Mirs Bay made by ocean going vessels of 3,000 gross tonnes or above has grown to 36.
"Moreover, ships transiting Mirs Bay nowadays, including container vessels, are much bigger than those in 1998. The increase in number and size of vessels including LNG vessels means that pilotage would be necessary to mitigate the increasing navigation risk in the Mirs Bay region.
"In taking forward the exercise, it has also transpired that the decision to exempt vessels transiting Mirs Bay from the pilotage requirement in 1998 was without legal backing, and hence must be rectified as soon as practicable," said the government communique.
The opinions expressed herein are the author's and not necessarily those of The Xinde Marine News.
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